Toronto residents Chris Yaccato and Heather Harvey continue to add signatures to a petition that opposes an untendered bid for a food-service license for the Boardwalk Cafe at Woodbine Beach.
The petition follows approval by Toronto city council on May 12 for Tuggs Inc. to continue to run all food services, including the Boardwalk Cafe, on land owned by the city at Balmy Beach and Woodbine Beach Park, and which now extends westward to include also Ashbridge’s Bay Park.
Tuggs Inc., owned by George Foulidis, has run the concession for more than 20 years and the revised contract will extend that arrangement for another 20 years.
“With our efforts to raise the issue in the broader community, people are now realizing what’s at stake, Yacatto told the Toronto Observer.
“They are upset that their voice is not heard, angry at a flawed process that this license agreement goes forward.”
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On Sunday, Yaccato and Harvey’s group forwarded a petition with 80 signatures to city councillors and the mayor, David Miller. In less than two days, the number of supporters has grown to 150 people. Almost all of them reside in the Beach.
“The license has been extended to Ashbridge’s Bay and they are adding moving trucks. They got a bigger slice for less money,” Yacatto said. “People thought it is a done deal, but it is not.”
Harvey, a consultant who serves on the boards of three not-for-profit organizations, got involved with the campaign two weeks ago.
“I suggested to Chris that we initiate a petition to get some leverage, hopefully convince council to change what they have done,” Harvey said. “The key issue is the lack of a request for proposal process (RFP).”
“For any government organization or business, it is unheard of not going through an RFP – in general, that is the best practice,” Harvey added.
Scott Bullock, who works in magazine publishing, also signed the petition: “The city now has financial challenges and should be looking to get more, not less.
“Ask anyone if their landlord would give them a deal like that on Queen Street East, lower rent and additional rights,” Bullock added.
The Boardwalk Cafe is in Ward 32, served by city councillor Sandra Bussin. Though contacted several times by the Toronto Observer, her office was not willing to comment on the petition.
So far few businesses or groups have publicly complained about the lack of competition on the bid. Yaccato noted most businesses do not know or understand all the complex details of the proposal including sales.
Deborah Etsten, executive director of the Beach Business Improvement Association, clarified that her organization represents mainly businesses on Queen Street East. Similarly, other BIA’s of the city operate along main streets. The area of the license, however, falls within park land owned by the city.
“When the issue came up, we discussed it, but it did not go to the board,” Etsten said. “Our businesses did not complain.”